Azalea 'mevrouw gerard' in bloom.
image by Leonid Dzhepko:commons.wikimedia.org
Azaleas are flowering perennial sub-shrubs that are widely sold as indoor plants. They bloom profusely and are produced year-round by commercial nurseries in a wide range of varietals and colors. The ruffle-edged blooms are set off by small, deep green, glossy foliage that has an elongated ovoid shape. Provided that they are placed in the proper light, temperature and moisture conditions, azaleas will perform as a long-lived flowering plants indoors.
Provide a cool indoor location in your home with an optimal temperature ranging between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. While azaleas will survive for a short period of time in warmer settings, their performance will be hampered and their bloom span will likely count more in days or weeks than months.
Place the azalea plant where it will receive bright indirect light while in bloom and more direct sun before and after bloom. Be careful, when placing near a southern or western-facing window, that the temperatures do not rise to be too hot for an azalea's comfort.
Maintain an evenly moist but not wet soil for your azalea and water deeply by soaking the pot every 5-12 days depending on your climate. Never let the soil dry out under any circumstances, as azaleas can be hard to revive once wilted. To water, fill your sink with cool to tepid water and plunge the entire pot into the water to above the rim. Hold underwater until air bubbles no longer rise to the surface. Lift the pot up and allow the water to drain out.
Feed once every 2-3 weeks with a good quality water soluble indoor flowering plant fertilizer such as Schultz's or MiracleGro, if you want to keep the azalea after it blooms. If you plan to throw it out after bloom you can skip the feeding as it will not prolong the current bloom. Pick off or snip off the dead flowers so that they do not rot on the plant or fall prey to the soil-inviting disease.
Place the azalea back into its cool but sunny location after the last of the blooms have faded. Pick off the dead blooms and maintain evenly moist soil. Re-bloom is possible for some indoor azalea plants under ideal conditions. Most azaleas grown for sale as indoor plants are forced in their bloom schedule. On a second bloom, your plant may revert to its natural bloom cycle, which could be less than or more than a year's time; so be patient, provide consistent care and await the formation of buds.